West Babylon couple searches for dog lost in surging river

Babylon residents searched Wednesday for Yuri, a 120-pound Black Russian Terrier swept away in a surge of water from the Carlls River on Aug. 13, 2014 while walking with a West Babylon couple and three other dogs. (Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz)

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After pounding rains kept them inside all morning, John and Kristen Kelly were taking their four Black Russian Terriers for a walk Wednesday when one dog was swept away by a surging Carlls River.

The couple, along with dozens of friends, strangers, fire and police officials, searched into the night, wading into the water and combing the shore between the flooded Southards Pond and Argyle Lake in Babylon and south down the Carlls River for the 120-pound dog, Yuri, with no luck as of early evening.

"He was just going to get a drink of water, then he took one more step and just fell right in," an emotional Kristen Kelly, of West Babylon, said. John Kelly said the dog was leashed at the time but pulled free to go to the water.

The couple said the rushing water swept Yuri south, swallowing him in seconds. Children nearby said they had seen the dog pop its head up above water after he traveled under a bridge at Park Avenue at about noon, Kristen Kelly said.

"That was the last time anyone had seen him," she said, crying into her hands as neighbors hugged her.

A social media campaign to find the dog attracted "hundreds" of people online to the cause, said Laura Haas, a neighbor and friend of the Kellys.

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John Kelly said his wife is a dog groomer who brings Yuri to work with her everyday, and the four dogs are like children to them, he said. "It's heartbreaking -- we're not giving up, but this is really becoming a recovery mission here right now," he said after the search went into the evening. "I don't think I'm getting my wife out of here anytime soon. She's determined to find his body, dead or alive."

After Wednesday's storm dropped a record rainfall on Long Island, the raging current -- streaming from the bloated Southards Pond south to the Babylon marinas and down to the bay -- was the most powerful he's ever seen here, John Kelly said. "He just vanished, like out of thin air," he said. "He went under that bridge and poof, he was gone."

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